Posted 01-Feb-2021 11:09:27
Category: Broadstone Equine
RISKY BUSINESS – PART II
In our last installment we discussed the importance of Commercial General Liability (CGL) coverage for professional horse people. A CGL policy is what helps in the event you are sued by a third party for bodily injury or property damage they feel were caused by your negligence. Following is some additional information to consider when it comes to protecting yourself and your business.
Many equestrians believe they do not need insurance because they are already protected through state equine liability laws and/or because they have their clients sign liability/hold harmless waivers. While both of these items offer some protection, they most definitely do not replace general liability insurance.
State Liability Laws - Almost every state has enacted laws specifically to protect professional equestrians. Though the wordings differ in each state, generally these laws recognize the risk inherent in horse-related activities, and help prevent a person or their family from bringing a lawsuit for an injury that occurs due to those inherent risks. If you are fortunate enough to reside in a state that has this type of law, become familiar with it. Include it in your liability/hold harmless releases and post the required wording clearly in your barn if that is required. Remember that these laws are generally only helpful in cases where injuries result from inherent risks. And even if the law helps limit your liability, at the very least you will need an attorney to help respond a lawsuit.
Liability Releases – Obtaining signed and dated liability waivers/hold harmless agreements from clients, or their parents or legal guardian if they are under 18, is extremely important. Make sure that these are clearly written and specifically detail the risks involved with equestrian activities, the need for the client to wear protective gear, as well as the party being released from liability. If possible, have the waivers drawn up by an attorney familiar with the business. It is well worth the extra cost. And as stated earlier, these releases should contain the state’s equine liability law if required, and if you will be operating in any way in different states, make sure each state’s wording is included if required. When presenting the release to a client, make sure that you specifically state its purpose as well as emphasize that it should be thoroughly read before being signed. IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to keep these signed/dated releases on file in a safe place where you can access them in the event of an incident.
It is important to keep in mind that like state liability laws, liability releases do not necessarily prevent lawsuits. Even if someone has signed a clearly worded release, do not assume that they won’t sue you, especially in instances where they feel they have no choice. So while these two items are not foolproof, they are still valuable tools that can act as a deterrent for someone considering a baseless suit, and if you are pursued in the legal system, they may be used as a cause to dismiss or limit your liability.
Together with obtaining the proper insurance coverage, professional equestrians should also consider protecting their interests in the following ways:
Barn rules - These are very important. Each client should be given a copy to sign along with the liability release. Like the state equine liability laws, these should also be clearly posted in the barn. Here are some suggestions, though you will want to consider what is appropriate for your operation.
- Require that ASTM/SEI approved helmets and boots with heels be worn at all times when mounted, and if jumping consider requiring that the client wear an air vest if appropriate.
- Require that proper equipment be used at all times when handling horses.
- No unsupervised children permitted in the barn.
- Preferably no dogs on site, or allow dogs only if leashed.
- No running in barn aisles.
- No smoking in or anywhere near the barn.
- No leaving any tack or equipment in the barn aisles.
Odds and Ends
- Post emergency numbers at every phone with instructions on what to do in the event of a fire or other emergency.
- Have well-stocked first aid kits for horses and humans.
- Learn CPR and First Aid. Get certified.
- If a certification program exists for your specialty, take part. Getting certified may not only help lower your insurance premium, it can improve your teaching technique and reinforce your safety program.
- Inspect your equipment often to make sure it is in good and safe condition.
- Keep walkways and parking lots clear of debris and ice.
- Store all barn equipment in a separate room, not in aisleways
- Post NO TRESPASSING signs at property boundaries, especially those with easy public access.
- Conduct regular property checks for hazards such as protruding nails, holes, damaged fencing or poisonous plants.
Look for the final installment of this three-part series soon. For Part I, click Here.
**These blogs are for basic information purposes only, and do not constitute advice from Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency. Contact our office directly at 888-687-8555 or info@BroadstoneEquine.com to speak with an agent for complete and current information regarding all coverages.